If you’re looking for a mix of adventure, exercise, and maybe even a new way to experience the great outdoors, rock climbing is the ideal sport. But if you’re also not sure where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. Our guides make climbing for beginners fun and easy.
If you’re ready to start, you’re probably wondering who can teach you go climb. And the first step in figuring out who can teach you to climb is deciding what type of climbing you’d like to do. Let’s take a look.
Step One: Choose a Climbing Style
There are a number of ways to climb—but bouldering, top-rope climbing, and lead climbing are the three most typical. Here’s what to know before you make a choice.
- Bouldering is when you climb close enough to the ground that you can jump off the rock or wall (with a thick, foam crash pad under you, of course). Since you don’t need a harness or rope and don’t necessarily need a partner, it’s a great choice for beginner climbers.
- Top-rope climbing is a style where a rope is attached to an anchor at the very top of a climb—which keeps you from falling very far if you slip off a hold. While this style requires a harness, rope, and belay partner (at the very least), many beginners choose this route to get a little higher up a wall in a safe manner.
- Lead sport climbing is the next step after you learn to top-rope well. To lead, you’ll tie into one end of a rope and have a belayer at the other end to catch you in the case of a fall. But instead of the rope attached to the top of the climb, you’ll climb upward and clip the rope into a series of quickdraws attached to the wall. This is a more advanced technique, as you can fall further than top-roping.
Step Two: Find an Expert
Learning to climb isn’t intuitive, or something you can figure out as you go along. To make sure you’re safe and learning how to climb correctly from the beginning, you’ll need a professional or a friend who also happens to be experienced in rock climbing.
You’ll want the expert you choose to teach you the most important skills—like safety tips, proper belay technique, rope management, and how to place gear and build safe anchors (later down the road). They can also offer tips and tricks on ways to be more efficient and graceful while climbing so you have more fun. But who are these experts?
- Experienced friends are a great way to learn the very basics—like climbing etiquette (pack it in, pack it out) and the rating system. If you’re lucky, a friendship can even become a mentorship, where your buddy takes you along on harder and harder climbs, teaching you the skills you need to advance. Remember that safety is the most important thing to remember—so be sure that your friend is teaching you the most up-to-date techniques.
- Professional guides are another fantastic way to learn to climb. If you’re looking to climb outdoors for the first time or even expand the skills you built on previous trips outdoors, hiring a guide is an ideal way to make progress and ensure you’re learning the right way. Make sure you do some research to figure out which guides work best for your skill level and financial wellbeing, as well as—most importantly—is the most qualified expert you can find. Look for certifications and reviews, and try and book someone from a trusted guiding company.
Step Three: Take a Class
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to jump right into one on one coaching or mentorship, although it’s wonderful if that’s possible for you. There are also plenty of opportunities for classes and workshops across the country and globe. Look into if there are some near you.
Classes and workshops can teach you important safety and technique skills affordably and well, and also have the added benefit of being great places to find friends (and even guides, too).
There are two main sources of classes and workshops:
- Climbing gyms often offer classes and workshops in a safer, more convenient location than the great outdoors. You can learn everything from body position to practising falling while lead climbing—so you can support your learning journey from your first climb until you are tweaking your intermediate (or even advanced) knowledge.
Climbing organizations are also wonderful places to find classes and workshops. These organizations are another ideal place to meet other climbers of all abilities, learn new skills, and even give back to your new community with volunteer trail maintenance an
Step Four: Practice, Practice, Practice
No matter who you decide to learn from, training is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle. Like many things in life, learning to climb is something that takes time and persistence. You’ll want to make sure that you keep at it, so your newly acquired skills stay cemented in your brain. And maybe you’ll even pick up new ones as you go!